Hughes, on behalf of the Scioto County Coalition For Drug Anuse Prevention, began by telling those in attendance that currently $3 per child per year is spent on drug prevention in schools in Scioto County, and passage of the levy would be strictly used for prevention education. Passage of the levy would produce an estimated $950,000, which would go to the ADAMHS (Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services) board.
“Until we do something about addressing concerns that we all have for children that are being exposed to this problem, we really haven’t solved anything,” Hughes said. “Because the next wave of addiction, the next wave of community problems is going to be upon us.”
Hughes presented the reasons why this area has such a high incidence of prescription drug abuse.
Hughes said this area has always had a high rate of alcohol and drug addiction. He said 30 years ago a survey was done in area schools to find out what youth attitudes were about alcoholism and drug abuse.
“One of the questions that was asked of these junior high kids was, ‘What do you consider normal drinking?’” Hughes said. “And the answer to that question in terms of the average for Scioto County, 30 years ago, was eight beers a day, which was double the answer given by kids in the rest of the state and the rest of the nation. What that’s telling us is that kiids were seeing a lot of drinking. That meant that what their perception of what normal was was very high, very skewed, again, based upon the fact that they were being exposed to a lot of alcoholism. Then, that became what looked normal.”
He said, because of that exposure, it became easy for them to experiment with alcohol and drugs.
Hughes said other factors that led to drug abuse included desensitized community attitudes, lack of funding, generational poverty, the area being targeted for the marketing of Oxycontin by the manufacturer, high rates of youth experimentation with drugs.
“That is what made us vulnerable to the pill mills and the underground sale of prescription medications,” Hughes said. “Because of that, from an economic standpoint, people will be looking for ways to make money, to subsist, to be able to pay their bills, and dealing drugs becomes one of those ways.”
Hughes said in 2001, 15 percent of admissions to drug treatment programs in Scioto County was the result of opiate addiction. Now that percentage is 85 percent. Hughes said in 2010, 9.7 million doses of Oxycotin were dispensed in Scioto County. Hughes said crack cocaine and methamphetamine never made their way into the youth population.
“We are seeing kids in our community, at the rate of about 25 percent, high school students have reported that they have experimented with Oxycontin,” Hughes said. “Last year, one of the first cases we saw within the school system, nine children essentially were arrested by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, for the possession and sale of Oxycontin. None of those kids were beyond junior high. Asked where they got the pills — where do you think they said? — home, family, friends, others.”
The levy would be one mill countrywide for five years, and would not be for treatment, but for funding drug abuse prevention services to schools and community-based prevention strategies, creating a counter message for children — “saving their futures, saving their lives.”
One member of the community asked about making parents more responsible for educating their children about the dangers of drug abuse.
State Rep. Danny Bubp said, “We’re in a crisis situation right now. This situation (parental intervention) doesn’t exist. They’re not getting it at home.”
Hughes said information from the state showed Scioto County 88th out of 88 counties in health conditions.
“That’s general health care when you look at the amount of smoking, the amount of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure. When you look at all of those health care factors, we rated 88th,” Hughes said. “So, if we are 88th in those, then the problem of addiction would equate that with, we’re going to have problems there, too.”
Hughes asked for all members of the community to work for the passage of the levy, which has come to be known as SOK (Save Our Kids).
“We’re tired of hearing bad news,” Hughes said. “Let’s create some good news.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.